More than 200 people have signed an online petition calling for a public meeting with New Jersey state officials and federal officials over concerns about a medical mystery at a high school following dozens of brain tumor diagnoses.
Every inch of Colonia High School, part of the Woodbridge Township School District, from the buildings to the fields, is being tested for radiation to determine if there is a link between the school and the number of cancer cases diagnosed among alumni and staff. But, according to the Change.org petition launched on Tuesday, the full results should not even be received before the end of May.
The school remained open, with local officials apparently telling parents that “at this time there is no discernable threat to the health or well-being of students, staff or visitors to Colonia High School. “, according to the authors of the petition.
This, say Colonia High School’s “parents, alumni and concerned township members” on behalf of their school community, is not acceptable.
“We appreciate the assistance of NJDOH, NJDEP, ATSDR, and CDC with the Township of Woodbridge environmental investigation that is currently underway, but we strongly believe that this is not enough,” the petition reads asking the involvement of more state and federal agencies. “Agencies have acknowledged their concerns about the potential cancer cluster, but are not performing any testing outside of radiation and radon which the township has undertaken, even though the school remains open. Because the school remains open, we demand greater urgency to find out if potentially harmful substances are harming our children and the staff at Colonia High School.”
High school graduate Al Lupiano believes there is a link between Colonia High School and brain tumors diagnosed in 108 people over a three-decade span, ending in the early 2000s.
“If we can enrich the science by showing that an unknown compound is in high concentration and link it to primary brain tumors, maybe we can protect others, remove it from our environment to make sure it doesn’t happen again. “, did he declare.
Lupiano, who is also an environmental scientist, and his wife Michelle – both high school graduates – were diagnosed with benign brain tumors 20 years apart. Lupiano’s sister, also a high school graduate, recently died of brain cancer.
Despite the number of cases, authorities must first determine whether scientific evidence actually points to a link between school grounds and brain tumors.
Parents like Dawn Genoni are ready to wait for those results — at least as Genoni spoke to News 4 last month.
“I’m confident they’ll get to the bottom of it and figure out what’s going on,” she said at the time.
But patience seems to be running out among some members of the community, judging by the petition. Others told NJ.com they want a distance learning option until the survey is complete. Others say the flow of information is sorely lacking.
“It is not enough to address the parents of the operating school with a suspected cancer cluster through written statements given to the media,” the petition reads. “We and our children deserve better! When children’s health and lives are at stake, we have the right to demand your full attention and transparency.”
The city of Woodbridge has taken the lead on that front, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on testing at a school that has graduated about 15,000 people over the past 30 years.
“One hundred out of 15,000 have brain cancer – that certainly sounds like something we should be concerned about,” Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac said.
Gov. Phil Murphy told NJ.com that the possible cluster of brain tumors was concerning, but stressed that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions about the cause.
“We absolutely have concerns,” the Democrat told NJ.com. “I don’t know if we know enough yet to be definitive in terms of causation, et cetera.”
Ultimately, if it’s not a radiation source that’s causing these illnesses, Lupiano says other tests can be done to pinpoint a cause.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s just one of many tests that can be done. A lot of times in hazmat you never find it on the first try,” Lupiano said.